Monday, May 22, 2017

'Alien Covenant' Topples 'Guardians 2' at Box Office


For the weekend of May 19-21, 2017, Alien Covenant took the top spot. Not quite as big an opening that Prometheus had, but this one had slightly better reviews and it also benefitted from last week's new releases opening poorly. It also grabbed an additional $81 million overseas, so it looks like it's on its way to profitability, just not by very much.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 got to $300 million domestic, and getting to $400 million is not unrealistic. It's now past $730 million worldwide.

Of the other new releases, Everything Everything did okay, considering its budget. I never saw any marketing for this outside of a poster. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul showed that despite the recasting of all the parts, maybe they should end this franchise.

Further down the chart, Smurfs: The Lost Village is now in the black thanks to its success overseas. Kong: Skull Island is finally in the black for the same reason.

Remember when it was announced they had 6-7 Power Rangers movies planned? Yeah, not happening. It tanked overseas.

And side note: Prayers for Zack Snyder, who dropped out of directing Justice League after his 20-year-old daughter committed suicide. Joss Whedon, who's prepping a Batgirl movie, will finish directing Justice League for Snyder.



Opens May 26
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DMTNT with Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem.
BAYWATCH with Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandria Daddario.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Alien Covenant - Movie Review

Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Egojo, Amy Siemetz, Jussie Smollett and Callie Hernandez.
Written by John Logan & Dante Harper.
Directed by Ridley Scott.

★★★

This is a sequel to Prometheus, while still being a prequel to Alien, and while the familiar xenomorph does show up, along with the face-grabber, this is still more in the vein of Prometheus.

At the end of that movie, the survivors Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender) set out to find the home planet of the Creators, the large white creatures that apparently designed the aliens. We eventually learn their fate in this movie.

Meanwhile a colonalization crew aboard the Covenant is headed for a new planet to colonize, but they receive what may be a distress signal from a different, habitable planet that they were unaware of. The captain dies in his hibernation pod due to malfunction, and the second-in-command Oram (Billy Crudup) doesn't seem to be up to the job. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is his backup, and she happens to be the wife of the now-dead captain. This crew of 14 decides to explore the new planet, and if they like it, they may use it to settle as their new home instead.

And on that planet, they meet David.

Now the Prometheus crew has their own synthetic with them named Walter. Fassbender plays both, and he does a great job of making them two complete characters. We can always tell who's who when David cuts his hair to match Walter's. (Which seems a little weird that no one questions it.)

It features some pretty gory deaths once the action kicks in, aliens bursting out of people's chests, backs, and mouths, and then when the main alien grows to its usual height, more people die in body-shredding ways. This movie filled in some holes that Prometheus left, and it's still very open for another film, which director Ridley Scott plans to be the final bridge between these prequels and 1979's Alien.

My biggest problem with this is the giant fluxuations in continuity, as far as how quickly these aliens incubate and grow. Remember when John Hurt had that thing on his face for 24 hours before it let go, and it took a few more hours before something burst out of his chest? This one has a face-grab to chest-burst in about one hour. And I can't say it was that scary. It's monster-movie fun, with a Hammer horror flavor to David, but the first two movies may never be topped.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Guardians 2 still #1, King Arthur flops


For the weekend of May 12-14, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 continues to roll. It's already in the black, having grossed over $630 million worldwide so far. The first one topped out at $773 million; this one should get to the $1 billion mark fairly easily.

Of the newcomers, King Arthur is a giant bomb. They keep retelling this story every decade or so; if Clive Owen couldn't make a franchise of it in 2004, I don't know why they thought Charlie Hunnam could in 2017. On a related note, we're getting another Robin Hood movie next year.

Snatched did a little better, but considering how successful Trainwreck was, this is a disappointing opening for Amy Schumer, especially when it's Goldie Hawn's first movie in 15 years.

Lowriders did well on limited screens; The Wall was all but forgotten on a few more.



Opens May 19
ALIEN: COVENANT with Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and James Franco.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL with Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott.
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING with Nick Robinson and Taylor Hickson.

Your Name. - Movie Review

Starring the voices of Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi.
Written & directed by Makoto Shinkai.

★★★★

We have an early frontrunner for the Best Animated Film of 2017.

This Japanese entrant takes a cliched plot device (body-switching comedy), but it's so inventive with where it takes it that it makes the concept seem fresh.

It centers on a teenage boy Taki and a teenage girl Mitsuha who don't know each other, but they wake up in each other's bodies. Then the next day they're back in their own, but with most of their memory of it gone. And then back again the next day. And they leave notes for each other to give clues as to what they did, but still, how did this happen, and why them?

The movie adds a twist halfway through that elevates this to a whole other level. The stakes of the mystery rise, as does the emotional weight.

Free Fire - Movie Review

Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, Babou Ceesay, Michael Smiley and Patrick Bergin.
Written by Amy Jump & Ben Wheatley.
Directed by Ben Wheatley.

★★½

This is a fun little gangster flick, probably more worthy to be watched on Netflix or Amazon Prime when it shows up in a few months.

The plot is very simple. In the 1970's, some IRA members are meeting some arms dealers in an abandoned warehouse to buy some guns. Room full of antsy people with guns and money? Eventually someone's trigger-happy finger sets things in motion.

Picture the Mexican standoff in Reservoir Dogs. Now picture there's about ten of them, and it's in a much bigger warehouse with more places to hide and take cover. And you have 45 minutes of movie to go. Now this does lead to a lot of scenes of shot people crawling on their elbows to get from this place of cover to that, but the dialogue and exchanges remain funny.

Wheatley said he was aiming to write a standoff movie realistically, and I can see that. In real life, these guys would miss most of their shots, and most of the ones that hit wouldn't be fatal.

Rings - DVD Review

Starring Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio and Aimee Teegarden.
Written by David Loucka, Jacob Estes & Akiva Goldsman.
Directed by F. Javier Guitierrez.



Few things are more frustrating than watching a sequel and knowing - knowing! - that you yourself could have written a better story.

This is basically The Ring 3. Samara is still having her video passed around, but now in a world where people can copy and send MPEGs instead of VHS tapes.

It commits the cardinal sin of horror films. It is never at any point scary. It goes through the motions people jumping when they don't notice someone behind them and whatnot, but it's like no one involved knows why that's scary. It has the feel of watching a live sitcom where the expected laugh-track is broken. This is a horrorcom that pauses for screams that never come. It even has a "twist" that it gives away half an hour before we get to the reveal.

The acting is terrible, the direction is unimaginative, and it's a real shame that they'd take a franchise with potential like this and kill it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is #1


For the weekend of May 5-7, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the easy, obvious winner. It out-opened the original one by a significant margin, and the MCU just keeps rolling out the hits. We're now 15 movies in, and the only one that wasn't profitable was the Edward Norton-led Incredible Hulk in 2008. GotG2 was the fifth-highest opener for the MCU, behind only Avengers 1 & 2, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: Civil War.

Beauty & the Beast and The Fate of the Furious have both grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide.


Opens May 12
SNATCHED with Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz and Joan Cusack.
KING ARTHUR with Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana and Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Summer 2017 Box Office Predictions


Another summer of big-budget blockbuster sequels, remakes and spinoffs!  Here's how I see the summer going with domestic grosses.

1. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (7/7) - $470 million - As long as it's good, it'll be huge. It's been only three years since the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man 2, but now with a younger Spidey who's part of the official MCU, complete with Iron Man as his co-star, I see this being the biggest winner, as much as any Avengers movie.

2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 (5/5) - $400 million - Oh look, another huge comic-book movie. Most of the reviews seem to be "as good or almost as good as the first one" which is usually the best a sequel can hope for. (The Dark Knight is a unicorn.) Someday a Disney/Marvel flick will flop. BUT NOT THIS DAY.

3. DESPICABLE ME 3 (6/30) - $355 million - The first two were huge, and Minions spinoff was even bigger. There's always one animated film that rises above the others, and I see this one as the most likely.

4. WONDER WOMAN (6/2) - $225 million - I'm betting on this being the first good DC movie since it became Zack Snyder's universe. And ironically I don't see it making as much as disappointments like Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, but it'll show itself to be a step in the right direction. If this movie sucks, I see some heads rolling.

5. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (6/23) - $210 million - People keep seeing these nmovies, so they keep getting made. Is there something special about this script that tricked Anthony Hopkins into joining the cast?

6. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (5/26) - $184 million - Johnny Depp's star power has taken a hit lately, with big flops (Mortdecai, Alice Through the Looking Glass) and the allegations he abused his ex-wife Amber Heard. I think it helps this movie's chances that Javier Bardem looks like a formidable villain.

7. CARS 3 (6/16) - $178 million - It looks like it's going to take a wildly different direction that the spy caper that was Cars 2. A final trailer for it should drop this week that lays out the story more, but the basics are that Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) gets into an accident and realizes he's having a hard time keeping up with the younger racing cars.

8. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (7/14) - $156 million - I don't see this being quite as big as the first two, but it also feels like the completion of the Caesar trilogy. Once again, none of the humans from the previous film return, but the supporting apes (Cornelia, Rocket, Blue Eyes, etc.) are all still there.

9. THE MUMMY (6/9) - $148 million - Tom Cruise is a good beginning for an anticipated Monster Cinematic Universe. This will tie to Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man (in development), and presumably Dracula and Frankenstein will eventually join them.

10. DUNKIRK (7/21) - $140 million - WWII dramas are generally reliable, but with director Christopher Nolan attached, I expect this to be an event. Nolan faves Tom Hardy (Bane) and Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow) star with Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and Harry Styles. Yes, THAT Harry Styles. This is also the first movie on the list that isn't a sequel/spinoff/remake.

11. THE EMOJI MOVIE (7/28) - $120 million - Hey, if the Angry Birds movie can make over $100 million, why can't this, with slightly more timely characters? It has four weeks of space after Despicable Me 3, and you have to either be really original (Kubo & the Two Strings) or really bad (Ice Age 5) to be an animated movie in summer and not make money.

12. BAYWATCH (5/26) - $118 million - Dwayne Johnson is a hit machine. It continues the trend of taking old TV shows and turning them into raunchy R-rated comedies, and for every 21 Jump Street, we get a CHiPs, but this looks like it'll work. The Rock and Zac Efron look like they have good chemistry.

13. ALIEN: COVENANT (5/19) - $115 million - While Prometheus may have disappointed some people, this looks like it's getting back to its vicious roots. My only fear is it looks a little too much like the original, and one thing that worked about the original is that it was a true ensemble and it wasn't clear that Ripley was the main character until after the captain died. From the trailers I already feel like I know who's left alive at the end of the movie.

14. ROUGH NIGHT (6/16) - $101 million - I see this attempt to find the Bad Moms audience as a successful one. Scarlett Johansson, Kate mcKinnon, Zoe Kravitz and Jillian Bell are a group of friends having a bachelorette party when they accidentally kill their male stripper. Hijinks ensue.

15. THE HOUSE (6/30) - $100 million - Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play a couple with money problems who decide to open an illegal casino in their basement.

16. THE DARK TOWER (8/4) - $95 million - I think there are enough fans of the books that this should do okay, though I'm gathering fans are really divided by the trailer. (Felt a lot more sci-fi than I thought the first movie should.)

17. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (6/2) - $94 million - Haven't seen much advertising for this, but it is the first animated movie of the summer, so it should have a decent opening regardless of quality.

18. ANNABELLE: CREATION (8/11) - $77 million - Hated the first one, but the marketing for this has been smart. I see it being like Ouija 2 where the sequel is a vast improvement over the predecessor.

19. ATOMIC BLONDE (7/28) - $72 million - Charlize Theron kicking butt. That's not a guaranteed hit formula, but it looks like the movie's taking the right approach.

20. SNATCHED (5/12) - $70 million - I used to think this would do better, but there seems to be this backlash against Amy Schumer right now.

Other Notable Releases:

ALL EYEZ ON ME (6/16) - The Tupac Shakur bio.

BABY DRIVER (6/30) - Snazzy preview but looks too niche to do much better than The Nice Guys.

DETROIT (8/4) - Kathryn Bigelow's hotbed drama about the 1967 Detroit Riots could be a surprise hit.

GIRLS TRIP (7/21) - Another entry in the Bad Moms/Rough Night genre, this one starring Regina Hall and Jada Pinkett Smith.

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (8/18) - Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard of Samuel L. Jackson's hitman. Mother-effin hijinks ensue.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (5/12) - Been hearing this is a mess, so I'm going to guess it doesn't crack the top 20.

VALERIAN & THE CITY OF 1000 PLANETS (7/21) - Looks like a gloriously expensive bomb. But I'm rooting for it.

Horror Flicks:

47 METERS DOWN (6/16) - This year's The Shallows.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (6/30) - It's been in the can for three years, so I don't have much faith in it being good.

IT COMES AT NIGHT (6/9) - Thriller looks like it's about paranoia but there might actually be something out there.

POLAROID (8/25) - Don't know anything about it but it's opening in the Don't Breathe slot.

WISH UPON (7/14) - Joey King (The Conjuring) finds a box that grants wishes but things start to go horribly awry.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Furious still #, Latin Lover #2


For the weekend of April 28-30, 2017, The Fate of the Furious had another big drop, but no new release was going to touch it. It's already passed $1 billion worldwide.

Of the new releases, the biggest hit has to be Baahubali 2, with a per-screen average that tentpole releases would pray for on opening weekend. The first one made $6.7 million in the US in 2015, decent for an India release in the US, but word-of-mouth in the right markets helped propel this to a bonafide hit.

How to Be a Latin Lover succeeded by putting Mexican star Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included) with a name supporting cast (Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe). Niche titles tend to do well in these dead spaces the week before a big title opens.

On paper, any movie that starred Tom Hanks (Sully), Emma Watson (Beauty & the Beast), John Boyega (The Force Awakens), Bill Paxton (in one of his final roles), etc., should be successful, right? Especially with a critically-acclaimed director in James Ponsolt (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour) making his first mainstream movie. But after lukewarm reactions to the trailer, it looks like the studio knew they had a dud on their hands and dumped it here without screening it for critics. (It's currently at 16% on RottenTomatoes).

Beauty & the Beast is now the 13th highest grossing movie of all time. It should pass Captain America: Civil War for 12th place sometime next week.



Opens May 5
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista.

Beauty & the Beast - Movie Review

Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Written by Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopoulos.
Directed by Bill Condon.

★★★

This movie for the most part balanced that fine line between being faithful to the original but finding parts where it can be its own thing. If anything, it's too faithful to the original, so that variances stuck out more.

Emma Watson is Belle, our French bookworm who longs for adventure. Dan Stevens is the Beast, a spoiled prince living in a cursed castle. One element they added that I appreciated was an explanation on why the townspeople didn't seem to know about this castle or this alleged prince.

The "Be Our Guest" number was a highlight, no small thanks to Ewan McGregor's capable vocals. Luke Evans as Gaston does the best among the human actors.